Acupuncture, simply put, is a health science that is used to treat both pain and dysfunction in the body. Being a system of medicine unto itself, it can be used for virtually any imbalance or pathology.
The roots of acupuncture are planted firmly in China. It is estimated that acupuncture is between 5,000 and 7,000 years old and has been used extensively throughout the Far and Middle Eastern worlds. It spread from the Middle East to the Roman Empire and Western Europe, eventually making its way to the United States. In the 1970s acupuncture became better known throughout this country, partly as a result of relaxed diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. Today, acupuncture is becoming ever more popular as part of wider participation in "alternative therapies", sought out toaddress common ailments and a new approach to health and healing.
Early Chinese physicians discovered there is an energy network traversing just below the surface of the skin that communicates from the exterior to the internal organs. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body. This energy works in harmony with the body's circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive, genitourinary and all other systems of the body. When this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened, any number of effects may become evident. Pain, inflammation, poor circulation, dysfunction of immunity, or hormonal functioning, are all examples of how the body might respond. Stimulation of one, or a combination of key acupuncture points on the body, aims to restore harmony to the affected area or physiological function.
Obviously the number of treatments varies with different conditions and individuals. Chronic problems generally require more treatment than acute ones. Some patients notice an immediate improvement after the first treatment, whereas others may not notice any effect until the seventh or eighth visit. It's been shown that a certain percentage of patients receive maximum benefit up to three months following a course of therapy.
Acupuncture textbooks list well over one hundred different conditions that respond well to acupuncture. The World Health Organization has indicated acupuncture is effective in the following conditions:
- Acute and chronic pain relief
- Tension, cluster and sinus headaches
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Bladder dysfunction
- Bed wetting
- Cervical (neck) pain and mid-back pain
- Low shoulder
- Tennis elbow
- Post-operative pain relief
- Gastric problems
- Skin conditions
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Neurologic syndrome
- Various eye problems
This is only a partial list of the numerous conditions acupuncture has been credited with helping. (adapted from the International Academy of Acupuncture)